WARNING: This story contains content about sexual assault that may be triggering to some people. If it raises anything for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
A Wangaratta based sexual assault service says the Australian of the Year and the infamous 'milkshake video' likely triggered increased reporting of child sexual assaults this year.
The Kids Helpline has received a nearly 50 per cent jump in reports of sexual abuse by family members in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year.
The Centre Against Violence's Lucy Lee said the amount of sexual abuse probably hadn't increased, but rather the reporting had, as the community developed a greater awareness of the issue in the wake of the work of sexual assault survivor Grace Tame and the Federal Government's highly criticised milkshake consent video.
"It's always been there, as terrible as that sounds," she said.
"It's just the increase in reporting and I think that's come from a variety of things, particularly in education around what is sexual assault.
Ms Lee said any time an abuse issue was in the media there was an increase in reporting.
"And giving them a voice, letting people know that it is OK."
Ms Lee said statistically perpetrators were commonly someone known to the victim-survivor, rather than a stranger.
"There's always been that shame about being secretive, you can't tell anyone," she said.
"But I think Grace has done a hell of a lot of hard work in just speaking out and being an advocate for taking that shame away from people.
But I think Grace has done a hell of a lot of hard work in just speaking out and being an advocate for taking that shame away from people.
"And giving them the empowerment to speak up."
Ms Lee said there had been other events, such as the Federal Government's much debated milkshake consent video, which had also encouraged people to speak up.
"As terrible as the whole milkshake consent video debacle was, that also just got people talking," she said.
"People still spoke about consent, because of how poorly it was done.
"It got conversation happening, we got an increase in our service in the amount of referrals coming in when that happened as well."
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Ms Lee said Brittany Higgins' alleged rape in Parliament House and the following community campaigns against sexual assault had also empowered people to come forward to report their experiences.
"All of those things happening in the media, all of those things together accumulated," she said.
"The whole Let Her Speak campaign, it's given victim survivors a voice and made them feel confident to tell someone.
"Often they don't know who to tell or where to go, people don't always know about their local services.
"So a lot of our referrals come from other agencies like Headspace, Kids Helpline, NESAY, schools.
"They don't know where to go so they talk to whoever they feel that safe adult is for them."
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